Hard to imagine any trades that would improve Chicago Bulls
As Wednesday's practice wound down at the Advocate Center, the Bulls' management team of John Paxson and Gar Forman sat together on the sideline.
It's a little unusual to see them out there, but that doesn't necessarily mean Paxson and Forman have given up on trying to make a deal before the NBA trade deadline hits Thursday at 2 p.m.
There's probably no deal they could make right now that would improve the Bulls. If they had the cap space to absorb salaries in a trade, this would be an interesting week. But the Bulls don't, thanks mostly to the decision to take on Otto Porter's bloated contract in a trade last year.
Porter has played in just nine games this season due to a broken foot. He could be seen moving around and shooting baskets Wednesday, so maybe there's still hope he'll be able to play again in a few weeks.
"I think overall it's been light around the league, not only us," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said of the trade talk. "We've got another day. Sometimes things pick up, sometimes they don't."
As far as trade bait, that's limited. Zach LaVine is playing close to an all-star level, so it's hard to imagine teams offering anything for LaVine that would improve the Bulls' roster.
Golden State's D'Angelo Russell has been mentioned as someone who could be available, and he might be an intriguing piece to play next to LaVine in the backcourt. For the Bulls to have any chance there, they'd almost certainly need to offer Lauri Markkanen.
Markkanen is hurt right now, resting a stress reaction in his pelvis. And he's had a somewhat disappointing third NBA season. The Bulls and every other team in the league are unsure about how good Markkanen will be in the long run, and he will be due for a contract extension this fall. So that idea brings plenty of uncertainty.
What about Kris Dunn, who will be a restricted free agent this summer? The fact that his contract is expiring makes him less valuable in a trade. Then during the past two games, with Dunn sidelined by a right-knee sprain, the Bulls' defense has fallen apart.
Regardless of whether Dunn turns out to be a long-term piece, the Bulls can't afford to be giving away helpful players. Dunn helps with both his defense and his feisty attitude on the court. The Bulls need more guys like Dunn and should try to re-sign him this summer.
Thaddeus Young is a veteran who could draw some interest from good teams. There's been talk of the Los Angeles Clippers eyeing Young since early this season.
Let's suppose the Bulls did trade Young to the Clippers for Mo Harkless' expiring contract and a first-round pick. First of all, that pick would be at the tail end of the first round, which makes it a questionable asset.
Removing Young's salary would give the Bulls a little room to maneuver this summer, but not much.
The problem with moving Young is he's the only healthy veteran on the roster. A better idea might be keeping him in the starting lineup when Markkanen comes back from the injury.
The path to getting better in the NBA is to surround the young guys with experienced veterans. On Wednesday, Young was asked about his methods of providing guidance to his younger teammates.
"I think I've been helping the guys grow," he said. "I think everybody's a little different. In order to be able to get through to some guys you have to be able to talk to them differently. It's like Coby (White) might not be able to take me yelling, but Daniel (Gafford) can.
"So, and not saying that Coby can't (take yelling), but you have to be able to approach guys in different ways and different manners to be able to get them to understand what you're trying to say and get through to them."
If the Bulls' twin rebuilds have proved anything, it's that throwing a bunch of young guys out on the floor together is no way to develop players. They need teammates who can provide guidance on the court.
Young was asked one last question: Is it OK if he yells at White, the Bulls' rookie shooting guard?
"Of course," Young said with a laugh. "I've yelled at him plenty of times. 'Shoot the darn ball, Coby!' "
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls
Bulls game dayScouting report
Bulls vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 7 p.m. at the United Center
TV: NBCSCH • Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Outlook: The Pelicans (20-31) have gone 3-4 since hyped rookie Zion Williamson made his season debut Jan. 22. Williamson has been solid, averaging 19.6 points and 8.0 rebounds in 27.1 minutes. ... New Orleans also has an all-star in SF Brandon Ingram, who is averaging 25.1 ppg. Other top scorers are SG Jrue Holiday (19.4 ppg), SG J.J. Redick (15.2) and PG Lonzo Ball (11.9). ... Ingram scored 29 points when the Pelicans beat the Bulls 123-108 in New Orleans on Jan. 8 without Holiday or Williamson.
Next: Philadelphia 76ers, 5 p.m. Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center
-- Mike McGraw